Millions of Americans preparing to travel during the holiday season will experience record prices for airline tickets. Some Americans forced to depart from their local airports, however, will contend with particularly hefty costs, while others will deal with higher numbers of flight cancellations.
The price of airfare has increased nearly 43% year-over-year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An analysis from SmartAsset found that prices surged most at Pensacola International Airport in Florida, where travelers paid $462 per ticket in the second quarter of 2022, marking an increase of more than 51% since the same time last year.
SmartAsset compared the nation’s 100 busiest airports with respect to average airfare cost, one-year percentage changes in airfare cost, and one-year dollar changes in airfare cost. Fresno Yosemite International Airport in California and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington, each with year-over-year price increases of more than 40%, took second and third place respectively.
Following the three aforementioned locations with respect to overall cost increases are Los Angeles International Airport in California, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana, Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama, Spokane International Airport in Washington, Tucson International Airport in Arizona, Boise Air Terminal in Idaho, and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Michigan.
Beyond the issue of rising costs, there are a number of airports which Americans should generally avoid due to high degrees of travel complications, according to a report from InsureMyTrip. Considering factors such as system delays and late aircraft arrivals, the company found that Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey are among the least reliable, while Chicago Midway International Airport in Illinois and BWI Marshall Airport in Maryland are the most reliable.
The national average airfare during the second quarter was $397, marking the highest level in eight years. Industry pressures such as pilot shortages have impacted affordability; the air travel sector will lack 12,000 pilots by next year, even as 14,000 pilots will be forced to leave the workforce over the next five years because of a federal law mandating that airline pilots retire by 65 years old, according to a study by consulting group Oliver Wyman.
Legislation proposed by Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) would raise the commercial pilot retirement age from 65 to 67 in order to ease staffing pressures. “Following the heavy-handed stupidity of government lockdowns, travel demand has naturally skyrocketed. However, Americans are now experiencing flight delays and cancellations on an unacceptable scale due to a worsening pilot shortage,” Roy asserted. “A key factor is a government-mandated retirement age that forces out thousands of our most qualified pilots every year.”
As the number of passengers plummeted two years ago due to the lockdown-induced recession, several airlines offered early retirement packages to their employees. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has since stressed the need to support high school and college training programs in order to catalyze the entrance of new pilots into the workforce.
Some companies have meanwhile introduced new incentives and decreased training requirements in response to the pilot shortage. Delta Air Lines introduced signing bonuses and pay hikes while removing the requirement for the completion of a bachelor’s degree.